Golden Agri-Resources response
Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) accepts that as a pioneer in this area, we have encountered challenges in relation to the implementation of our Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) and Free, Informed and Prior Consent (FPIC).
GAR remains committed to sustainability and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples.
The Guardian points out that GAR ‘was among the first of the major palm oil companies to commit to an ambitious and wide-reaching voluntary policy to protect forests and rights.’ This leadership position does bring its own problems, and we are currently involved in instituting a broad range of management and policy reforms to ensure that those we have encountered are eliminated. This includes:
1. Developing and implementing enhanced Standard Operating Procedures or SOPs related to FCP and FPIC in collaboration with our NGO partners. This includes training for all field staff, contractors and engaging with communities.
2. Commissioning The Forest Trust (TFT) to conduct a field survey of the communities where concerns have been raised. From this we will develop solutions in partnership with local NGOs.
3. Carrying out a complete process of Participatory Mapping – at the moment GAR is working on 12 concessions and 83 villages. (Participatory Mapping is a process whereby boundaries are defined and agreed by the concession company and the community).
4. Launching a new Sustainability Policy which will integrate an enhanced FCP and strengthened Social and Community Engagement Policy (SCEP) in the near future. We are currently finalizing the policy in collaboration with our NGO partners.
5. Extending financial support to independent smallholders and helping them boost their income and productivity.
6. Restructuring our management team so that sustainability and FPIC are integrated at field level upwards.
7. Working with TFT on a jointly-agreed action plan to reinstate our upstream membership with them. This plan was published on 22 June 2015 and is available on TFT and GAR websites.
As The Guardian points out the problem is wider than any one company’s ability to address it completely and we wholly support the Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP) in its engagement with government to improve the policy environment in which all palm oil companies operate. GAR believes a collective effort on the part of multiple stakeholders is needed to achieve concrete results in addressing deforestation and sustainability concerns.